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The Imminence and Horror of the Invasion


Flee for safety, O children of Benjamin,

from the midst of Jerusalem!

Blow the trumpet in Tekoa,

and raise a signal on Beth-haccherem;

for evil looms out of the north,

and great destruction.


I have likened daughter Zion

to the loveliest pasture.


Shepherds with their flocks shall come against her.

They shall pitch their tents around her;

they shall pasture, all in their places.


“Prepare war against her;

up, and let us attack at noon!”

“Woe to us, for the day declines,

the shadows of evening lengthen!”


“Up, and let us attack by night,

and destroy her palaces!”


For thus says the L ord of hosts:

Cut down her trees;

cast up a siege ramp against Jerusalem.

This is the city that must be punished;

there is nothing but oppression within her.


As a well keeps its water fresh,

so she keeps fresh her wickedness;

violence and destruction are heard within her;

sickness and wounds are ever before me.


Take warning, O Jerusalem,

or I shall turn from you in disgust,

and make you a desolation,

an uninhabited land.



Thus says the L ord of hosts:

Glean thoroughly as a vine

the remnant of Israel;

like a grape-gatherer, pass your hand again

over its branches.



To whom shall I speak and give warning,

that they may hear?

See, their ears are closed,

they cannot listen.

The word of the L ord is to them an object of scorn;

they take no pleasure in it.


But I am full of the wrath of the L ord;

I am weary of holding it in.


Pour it out on the children in the street,

and on the gatherings of young men as well;

both husband and wife shall be taken,

the old folk and the very aged.


Their houses shall be turned over to others,

their fields and wives together;

for I will stretch out my hand

against the inhabitants of the land,

says the L ord.



For from the least to the greatest of them,

everyone is greedy for unjust gain;

and from prophet to priest,

everyone deals falsely.


They have treated the wound of my people carelessly,

saying, “Peace, peace,”

when there is no peace.


They acted shamefully, they committed abomination;

yet they were not ashamed,

they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;

at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,

says the L ord.


Thus says the L ord:

Stand at the crossroads, and look,

and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”


Also I raised up sentinels for you:

“Give heed to the sound of the trumpet!”

But they said, “We will not give heed.”


Therefore hear, O nations,

and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.


Hear, O earth; I am going to bring disaster on this people,

the fruit of their schemes,

because they have not given heed to my words;

and as for my teaching, they have rejected it.


Of what use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,

or sweet cane from a distant land?

Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,

nor are your sacrifices pleasing to me.


Therefore thus says the L ord:

See, I am laying before this people

stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;

parents and children together,

neighbor and friend shall perish.



Thus says the L ord:

See, a people is coming from the land of the north,

a great nation is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth.


They grasp the bow and the javelin,

they are cruel and have no mercy,

their sound is like the roaring sea;

they ride on horses,

equipped like a warrior for battle,

against you, O daughter Zion!



“We have heard news of them,

our hands fall helpless;

anguish has taken hold of us,

pain as of a woman in labor.


Do not go out into the field,

or walk on the road;

for the enemy has a sword,

terror is on every side.”



O my poor people, put on sackcloth,

and roll in ashes;

make mourning as for an only child,

most bitter lamentation:

for suddenly the destroyer

will come upon us.



I have made you a tester and a refiner among my people

so that you may know and test their ways.


They are all stubbornly rebellious,

going about with slanders;

they are bronze and iron,

all of them act corruptly.


The bellows blow fiercely,

the lead is consumed by the fire;

in vain the refining goes on,

for the wicked are not removed.


They are called “rejected silver,”

for the L ord has rejected them.


The Prophet leaves here the similitude he had adopted; for he does not now speak of shepherds, but expressly describes the enemies, as coming with great force, and furiously attacking and laying waste both the city and the whole of Judea. He was before like God’s herald, proclaiming war; but he now, by a sort of personification, introduces the Chaldeans encouraging one another to fight. Sanctify, he says, war against her. So the Hebrews speak; for in all ages wars, we know, were proclaimed by a solemn rite. God, no doubt, has implanted this feeling in all nations, that no wars should be suddenly undertaken, and that no arms should be taken up except for a lawful reason: for the proclamation of war was a testimony, that they did not contend with one another but for causes just and necessary. It is indeed true, that wars have been often undertaken rashly, and for no just causes; but yet it was God’s will that this custom should remain and continue in use, in order to take away excuse from men given to cruelty, or led by ambition to disturb the world and harass others. This then is the reason for this manner of speaking, Sanctify war; it is the same as though they declared and proclaimed a just war by a solemn ceremony. It was according to the common practice that the Prophet spoke when he said, Sanctify war against her, as we say in our language, Sommez la

Then follows the readiness of the enemies, yea, their incredible quickness, for he shews that they were extremely swift, Arise ye, and let us ascend at mid-day. But they who come to assail a city do so usually in the morning. When the heat prevails, it is not a suitable time, for the heat of the sun debilitates the body. Then enemies rest when night comes, except an unexpected advantage should offer itself: but having been refreshed, they rise early with recruited strength for fighting; they scale the walls or assail the city by other means, or beat down the walls by warlike instruments: but to begin the work at mid-day, when a city is to be attacked, is by no means usual. Hence the Prophet intimates, that so ripened was God’s judgment, that the Chaldeans, after having come to the walls of the city, would not wait, no, not even a few hours. Arise ye, and let us ascend at mid-day

He then subjoins, Alas for us, for declined has the day, and the evening shadows are extended. He employs a military language; for soldiers, we know, are for the most part fierce and barbarous, and never speak in moderate terms. They have ever in their mouths, “Alas for us!” or they use some other words, reproachful either to God or to men. The Prophet then expresses the words of the soldiers; for he describes the Chaldeans, and represents, as I have said, to the Jews the scene as present, that he might dissipate their delusions, in which they were wholly asleep. Alas, then, for us! for declined has already the day, already have the evening shadows extended: they who have added, “Too far,” because they had declined more than usual, have mistaken the meaning of the Prophet. It is the same as though he had said, “Already the night is nigh, and why should we give over? and why do we not make such an impetuous assault as to take the city in a moment?” This is the real meaning of the words.

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